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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Colin Powell Answers Questions in Brussels

Aired December 6, 2001 - 09:44   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of State Colin Powell is taking some questions at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Let's dip into that. I apologize, again, for interrupting our interview.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: -- where we put it in Kabul. And what has impressed me so greatly are the number of countries who have stepped forward and said they are willing to contribute troops to such a force.

There will be no shortage of troops. Getting the right mix and determining the leadership of this force has yet to be sorted out. For the foreseeable future, General Tommy Franks, our commander and the CENTCOM commander, will command all of the coalition forces that are in the theater because he still has a mission of going after Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

I would expect, however, that as the international force comes into the theater and as General Franks winds down his part of the mission, we would pass off control to the leader of this coalition of the willing.

The point with respect to whether we get it in there before the 22nd or not, we haven't really discussed this; whether that is an essential matter or not. The 22nd isn't that far away and you just don't beam people in. There's quite a process required to identify units, get them ready to go and then actually move them into the theater.

Let me just touch on the fact that there are so many countries not only in NATO and elsewhere that are willing to contribute, but there's been some speculation that NATO was kept on the sidelines. Quite the contrary. It was just a source of great encouragement to me to see how so many of our NATO colleagues came forward immediately and said, "We'll put 2,000 people on alert. We'll put 6,000 people on alert. We'll give you more AWACS. We'll give you C-130s. We'll give you special operating forces. We're ready. Tell us what you need."

There are 200 liaison officers at our headquarters in Tampa, Florida, all anxious to be a part of it. I understand that. But when you run a campaign plan, you have to feed units into the campaign as you need them and there will be future needs as we get into this international peacekeeping force. So the suggestion that NATO has been kept on the sidelines is not an accurate one. NATO was right there at the very beginning with the offer of its capabilities. And then we had the option, the pleasant option, of choosing from that menu that was provided from all that capability that was made available to us by NATO. That shows the relevance of NATO. And as we get further into this international peacekeeping force, I'm quite sure we'll be going back to our NATO allies, most likely on a bilateral basis or within the U.N. framework, to ask them to bring those capabilities, bring those units forward in order to keep Afghanistan moving in the right direction. Far from being on the sidelines, NATO has been front and center since day one.

MODERATOR: OK. I think we only have time for two more. The one all the way over there and one back here.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, just a follow-up on this. Do you see a collective NATO role in this international force in Afghanistan?

POWELL: I'm sure it'll be discussed collectively within NATO councils. But, as you know, Article V doesn't say the whole alliance has to respond collective. Each individual member of the alliance decides how it will contribute to that Article V invocation requirement or commitment. And so, I am quite sure we will be discussing with Lord Robertson and his colleagues what the needs are. But then I think the actual contributions and the deals that'll be cut will be between the leader of the coalition of the willing and the individual countries who are offering capabilities, because they will not only be NATO offers, it'll be offers from many other nations around the world who have made such offers. And there will have to be a U.N. role in it as well.

So it'll be a little complicated, but we have dealt with complicated situations like this before and they all tend to work out, notwithstanding what looks like bureaucratic impasses at the front end.

MODERATOR: Last one down here.

QUESTION: Terry Shields from Fox News. Mr. Secretary, in previous NATO and NAC (ph) meetings, some of the issues of contention were very much related to the U.S. and to Russia like the A.B.M. Treaty, like concern over U.S. national missile defense --

ZAHN: All right, we are going to leave it there, as you see Secretary of State Colin Powell taking questions at Brussels headquarters -- excuse me, NATO Headquarters in Brussels. Basically responding to criticism about NATO's involvement in the war against terrorism. The secretary of state said NATO, far from being on the sidelines, is involved in the war on terrorism. We will bring you any more information coming out of that brief news conference when it becomes available.

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